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doing so, walked and stood with apparent ease;-the strain, D marked, was in his head, not in his heel.
Satiety awaits upon enjoyment, and Kean had drank of the cup to the dregs. "He became unhappy for the sake of change, was nervous, fancied he should expire on his birth-day, and gave way to a thousand sillinesses which he never would have dreamed of had not his equallyaffected prototype, Byron, made “ melancholy a fashion." When Sir John Sinclair presented the tragedian with a Highland sword as high as himself, he thought proper, in his reply, to say that “ the difficulties of his art” were proved by the variety and instability of success," and he sensibly felt how necessary “public protection was to sustain an actor even in his least chequered and unclouded career.
Again, in his farewell (1820), he spoke of “ the public supporting him against the shafts of calumny,”-all mere imaginations, for he was peculiarly fortunate as regards the press; and the last thing he did previous to leaving England was to say to the Liverpool audience, “ I have not experienced here that warmth of approbation, and that alacrity of attention with which I have been honoured in other large cities !” This he said in the teeth of the acknowledged fact, that the Liverpool audience, who are generally stiltish and sceptical, had lavished more applause on him thani on any other favourite of the public.
His conduct induces the belief that he was more subject to aberrations of intellect than the generality of the sons of genius. After the trial Cox v. Kean he was certainly insane; he went through the provinces talking in the course of his characters to the audiences on the subject of his private affairs. At Birmingham his benefit was a total failure; in the last scene of the play (“ A New Way,” &c. I think) an allusion is made to the marriage of a lady; he suddenly said, “ Take her, Sir; and--the Birmingham audience into the bargain.
At Cheltenham the editor of a journal animadverted severely on his character. Kean played Sylvester Daggerwood for his benefit, and performed the part with a horsewhip in his hand, saying aloud, “ I keep this little instrument to punish cheating aldermen and lying editors." At that time he esold his wardrobe, affirming that he did so from the pressure of absolute want.
About that period, too, whilst playing Daggerwood elsewhere, he threw somersets, handsprings, &c., exclaiming, “ I may as well practice, for I suppose I must go back to this.” And when he did not perform any of the evolutions to his own satisfaction, he cried, “ I could do these things a few years ago, but I'm too fat and too old now."
He went to Manchester and Liverpool, behaving in the same erratic and incoherent manner, and then embarked for America, as he said, bankrupt alike in fortune and in reputation.
Kean, when in the full possession of his senses, was a very unassuming man ; when excited by wine or liquor, he was noisy, quarrelsome, and overbearing : his manner, under such circumstances, so strongly resembled that of the late George Frederick Cooke, that, strange as it may seem, there is little doubt he had imbibed it from that unfortunate genius. George Morland, Cooke, and Kean resembled each other so much in their habits, that any anecdote told of the one might as readily be cited as a point in the character of the other. Each of them wanted a true friend. I do not say this invidiously: such a friend, perhaps, never
has existed; he must have exerted the power of a parent, and combined with it the drudgery of a slave ;-indeed, the only way to have kept either of these men from the paths they trod would have required that friend to have merged his own happiness, nay, his own existence, in that of the creature he thus saved, – a sacrifice that no man who had mind enough to restrain their evil habits could ever have made.
Of the frays in which he was engaged, it would be equally impossible and useless to attempt any account; and respecting these adventures when he himself spoke, it was generally in that mysterious confidence in which he indulged to all his acquaintances. He at one time received a violent blow on the bridge of his nose*. The danger apprehended was disfigurement; however, in a short time, a slight bump was the only external relic of the injury. Of the affray in which he received this he for some time refused to speak, and I believe all he ever said was that, in a row at the Cock and Bottle, (Haymarket,) Thurtell struck him in the face with a candlestick. Of Thurtell's talents he generally spoke in high terms, and could hardly be brought to believe that Thurtell could have been guilty of the coldblooded and premeditated murder for which he was executed. The reader may recollect that, pending the trial and after the execution of that ill-fated man, dramas were announced and exhibited at some of the minor theatres on the subject, and a vehicle brought on the boards described as “ the identical gig in which Weare was at the time he was murdered :” one night Kean, in one of his fits of temporary insanity, for he was not drunk, got into the gig, instead of the actor who was to play Weare, and drove it round the Surrey stage. This act would be a heartless and brutal one if he really had the power of reasoning at the moment of its commission, which I assuredly believe he had not.
Though avaricious of praise, Kean would often fling back with contempt the adulation of sycophants, and sometimes even misgive the approbation of friends. After his failure (for failure it certainly was) in Kitely, (“Every Man in his Humour,”) one or two of his acquaintances were arguing very stoutly before his face that the failure of attraction was in the play, and arose from the alteration of public taste; it being a comedy of manners rather than of passions, and, lastly, that his Kitely was the greatest thing in nature, and that R. Palmer had said “ it was better than Garrick's." Kean rose, his eyes quivered with that peculiar nervous excitement that it is so much easier to imitate than describe, and patting the head of Charles his child, who was in the room, he muttered
They flatter'd me like a dog ;
'Tis false: I am not Kitely proof." This occurred at his house in Clarges-street. Miss O'Neil lived nearly opposite to him, and as she was in treaty at Drury-lane theatre at the time he appeared, and afterwards became, in attraction, his most powerful rival, he was wont to watch her steps in public favour and not unnaturally contrast them with his own. When she played Widow Cheerly even her best friends confessed “ she was not all that could be wished.”
* I think it was said that Kean suffered from polypus ; whether subsequently to this accident I do not recollect.
She passed down the street the following morning, and was, or appeared to be, much chagrined : some one remarked this to Kean; “ Aye; poor soul,” said he, with a quaintness which was really irresistible," she can't play Kitely."
Little Knight wrote a song called “Kitty Clover," the melody of which Kean played over one day in the presence of his (Knight's) son; it was subsequently brought out as “ composed by Mr. Kean.” Knight was attempting to flatter the tragedian by talking at him of the beauty of the melody to Miss Stephens, whom he persuaded to sing a serious song that he had written to the air*. . Kean turned away from Jerry Blossom, and said to a friend, “ Don't mind that fellow; the truth is, I was out all night in Glasgow, and heard a soldier, who was as drunk as myself, whistling an air: my ear is quick, and I caught up something like the melody in question; but as no one has claimed it, I suppose it's bad enough to be mine.
The widow of Garrick, the morning after his second benefit, when he appeared in “ The Tobacconist,” wrote him this pithy note :
“ Dear Sir,-You can't play Abel Drugger. Yours, &c.'' To which he replied as follows :
“ Dear Madam,-I know it. Yours, &c.,-E. KEAN."'
Let me add one more instance of his willingness to confess his errors. A literary friend had replied to some aspersions cast on him for suffering a prologue to “ The Jew of Malta ” to be spoken which contained this line
“Nor mourn an Alleyne whilst we boast a Kean." “ I thank you for your defence," said Kean; “but I deserve the attack; for my folly in not preventing was as great as my supposed vanity in causing it; but they know what a fool I am, and do as they please.” On the same subject he is reported also to have made this splendid reply-“ Alleyne was at least as good an actor, and certainly a better man,- he acted better than me at Dulwich."
He got into a quarrel with a powerful fellow one night at a house in Clare-market, and was at last stripped and fighting with one his superior in strength, size, and science. His friends got him away to the Bedford, and he sat down to supper; during which one of the party said, “ I'm glad we were there: the fellow you was fighting with is
who had a hard contest with the Gas-light Man.” Soon after Kean was missed, and it ultimately appeared that he had left the Bedford, sought out his antagonist, and fought with him in the streets, and that in consequence the guardians of the night conveyed them to St. Dunstan's watch-house, from whence they were bailed by Mrs. Butler, of Coventgarden-market. It is to be noted that Kean insisted on his adversary being bailed by his (Kean's) friends, with the express intent of going to fight it out in a room, to see if he could not beat this “ terrible fellow from Oxford ;” but he was at length pacified.
* This was announced thus:--. Where is my lover, oh! where is he gone," a new ballad. The poetry by Mr. Knight; the melody by Mr. Kean.” Poor Kitty Stephens, through some mishap, got hissed, for the first and, I believe, the last time in her life, in this precious effusion.
DIALOGUES OF THE LIVING.NO. I.
Dialogue 1. Lord Alvanley and Sir Andrew Agnew.
2. Viscount Palmerston and the Prince Talleyrand.
Scene.—Bellamy's House of Commons.
SIR ANDREW AGNEW AND LORD ALVANLEY. Lord Alvanley. Well, Sir Andrew, here you are again-one down, t'other come on-so you have got another Bill for us. Sir Andrew. Your Lordship is right.
Lord A. Gad! I have often heard of a distinction without a difference, but I never saw a case more clearly in point than your Bill of this year compared with that of last—the distinction may be in the date, but as for the difference, none can I discover.
Sir A. You read hastily. In a measure of this character, the minuteness of its provisions constitutes a considerable part of its importance ; attention should be paid to the smallest circumstances.
Lord A. Why, to tell you the truth, I have no great turn for Bills, and still less for paying-attention; but to me—to be sure I don't profess to know a great deal of the matter-it appears that there is one sweeping objection to your proposed enactment, which may perhaps supersede the necessity of my descending to particulars; I mean, my dear fellow, that it is impracticable. Sir A. Are you inclined to be serious ? Lord A. Not generally, I admit; but why? Sir A. Will you hear my defence to any objections you may oppose to me?
Lord A. Oh certainly; only do me the kindness to pass the wine.
Sir A, Well, then; what possible objection can you have to the first clause of my Bill, prohibiting all manner of work on the Sabbath Day?
Lord A. Objection ! none; only as one of the commandments most particularly points to the rest of all persons from labour on that day, it seems scarcely necessary for you, my dear Sir Andrew, to add your personal authority, or even that of Parliament, to such a decree. It seems to me to be about as essential as my endorsing a thousand pound note of the Bank of England, in order to ensure its negociation.
Sir A. There you are wrong, my Lord. However important and potential Divine precepts or commands may be, such is the fallibility of human nature, that human power is generally necessary to enforce and maintain them.
Lord A. I can understand that, when the command is to labour; but to be idle, surely does not need so much exertion as to require an enforcement of leisure on people who have been working all the previous week.
Sir A. I assure you it does ; however, as we go on, I will revert more particularly to this point, and convince you of the truth of what I say.
Lord A. Well, now, I will admit, for argument's sake, that your clause to close the shops, and to stop all buying and selling on Sundays, is unequivocally good and just ; but the penal clause which follows appears to point to a circumstance almost beyond the probability of the case. After directing how much the people are to be fined for buying or selling on a Sunday, you put in this: - And in addition to such forfeitures, every sale, payment, settlement, contract or agreement, and every receipt or discharge for money given on that day shall be utterly void and of none effect."
Sir A. Well !
Lord A. Why, my dear Sir Andrew, who, upon the face of the earth, ever thought of paying anybody on Sunday? It is a thing men think of as little as possible any day in the week, but Sunday is the last day in the week that it would ever enter into any man's imagination; why it is a dies non in law. Nobody can make a man pay on Sunday; who the deuce do you suppose will volunteer?
Sir A. Jews might.
Lord A. Very convenient too, and not wrong on their parts; but do you mean your Bill to affect the Hebrews ?
: Sir A. Certainly; in return for the toleration they enjoy, they are bound to conform themselves to the laws of our country.
Lord A. So they are, as far as usury is concerned, but they try to evade even those; and I really must say, without meaning too seriously to impugn your proposition-your motives nobody can impugn-I scarcely think that, the forcing a Jew to keep a Christian Sabbath is likely either to advance the morality of the Hebrews, or the prosperity of the Christians.
Sir A. That seems to be a matter of opinion. I deal with the Jews. Lord A. So do I, my dear Sir Andrew ;—the wine is with you again. What! you pass it? Now, see, a case in point:-Here is your fifth clause, which fines a man ten to twenty shillings for being drunk on any part of the Sunday in addition to any other penalties against that sin which may already be in force. That's hard, Sir Andrew. Why, it takes a man more than thirty shillings to get drunk at all, like a gentleman; and only just conceive, sitting ир. accidentally on Saturday night, and not getting home till after twelve o'clock ;-eh, don't you think that a cruel case?
Sir A. Not at all. I drink no wine myself.
Lord A. Ay; there it is; and you don't sell fruit, or meat at an early Sunday market for the convenience of your poor neighbours. Nor do you buy them for your own. I see you have not a turn for those prohibited vices. But what have we here? Your sixth clause enacts “ that every person keeping a hotel, coffee house, tavern, inn, ale-house, beer-house, cookshop, victualling-house, used or licensed for the sale of wine, beer, ale, cyder, porter, spirituous or other liquors by retail, who shall suffer any wine, beer, ale, porter, cyder, spirituous or other liquors, dressed meat or other provisions, to be drunk or consumed in or upon, or to be removed, delivered, or sold out of his or her premises, on any part of the Lord's Day, or any part thereof; and every person who shall be present on the Lord's Day, or any part thereof, at any news-room or club-room, shall forfeit, for the first offence," and here follow the penalties.
Sir A. And very proper, too, my Lord.
Lord A. Proper; it may be vastly proper: but you destroy not only the profession and calling of a vast number of respectable people who get their livelihood by selling all these articles on a day in which if men rest from working they cannot rest from eating.
Sir A. They must eat at home.
Lord A. That's easy to say, Sir Andrew, by a wealthy Baronet, with a fine house and a comfortable establishment; but of the vast population of this country and of this town especially who live by their labour, how many, or rather how few, have homes which afford them the means of cooking their dinners ?
Sir A. Let them buy their meat on the Saturday.
Lord A. And so eat a cold dinner on the Sunday,—that being the day of rest on which alone, of all the seven in the week, they can find time or opportunity to enjoy a hot one ;--and whatever you may think, Sir Andrew, the Sunday's dinner is that which, before you and I were born or thought of, and for ages before that, has been looked forward to, through the week, as